Residents of U.S. high plains and Upper Midwest were shoveling snow and shaking their heads Friday, as a second bomb cyclone in the past month hammered the region with heavy snows and high winds.
“We dodged a bullet,” said Denver electrician Jason Sorber, as the Denver metropolitan area was grazed by the massive winter storm, receiving only two inches (5.08 cm) of snow.
East of the Colorado’s Rocky Mountains was not so lucky.
Dubbed “Wesley” by the National Weather Service (NWS), the blizzard affected 4,600 square km and 20 million people in a dozen central U.S. states, hitting the region with winds up to 60 miles per hour, two feet (60 cm) of snow, and dramatic temperature drops.
The NWS said that snowfall records had been broken across Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, and South Dakota where thousands of miles of interstates were closed.
An unusual weather phenomenon known as “thunder snow” – snow accompanied by thunder and lightning – was reported Wednesday and Thursday in central South Dakota, the NSW said.
OUT OF CONTROL
No deaths were reported from the storm, but thousands of airline flights were canceled from Denver to Chicago, and thousands of stranded motorists and car crashes were reported throughout the area.
In Minnesota, the state highway patrol said it responded to more than 500 crashes on Wednesday and Thursday, and the National Guard was called in to rescue stranded motorists.
High winds and property damage were reported as far south as St. Louis and Arkansas, and tornado warnings were issued throughout America’s central and southern states for the weekend, including the major cities of Houston, Dallas, and New Orleans.
Although Colorado escaped the brunt of the cyclone – unlike a month ago – Colorado’s governor Jared Polis still issued a state of emergency after 55,000 people lost power Wednesday night.
“Not as bad as the last one for sure,” Sorber told Xinhua. “But Mother Nature is out of control.”
Colorado’s power was restored by Friday, but nearly 77,000 homes and businesses were cut off Thursday across Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Michigan, according to poweroutage.us.
Snow and ice accumulating on power lines along with strong winds were responsible for the power outages, Matt Lindstrom, a spokesman for Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, said.
The threat of severe weather shifts in the next 48 hours to southern states including Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, where high winds, tornadoes and hail are expected, the Weather Channel reported Friday.
The March 13 bomb cyclone caused billions of dollars in flood damage in Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and South Dakota, and hit Denver hard with two feet of snow, stranding hundreds of motorists over a 24-hour period.
But the April storm just missed Colorado’s capital city and Twitter was filled with condemnations of meteorologists on Thursday.
“So I’ve seen all these weather reporters acting like this is a big storm for Denver,” Stephen Felt Tweeted. “They must be Noobs, lol,” he posted on Thursday.
“Rough night to be a weathercaster in Denver, keep your chin up champ will get them next time!” added Louis Mullen.
Denver’s award winning CBS Meteorologist Dave Aguilera explained that Wesley was not “technically” a bomb cyclone – defined as when barometric pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours – but the storm was bad enough.
“This is a still a big blizzard producing storms and we have to watch out for this one,” he cautioned.